Capitol Complex is a breathtaking structure at Sector 1 in Chandigarh that houses the seat of both Punjab and Haryana governments, respectively. With its architectural grandeur that is credited to Le Corbusier, this magnificent building is the perfect reflection of the planned city of Chandigarh.
Within the premises of the complex are three edifices, the Secretariat, the Legislative Assembly and the High Court, which forms the main organs of administration. Though the three imposing structures are out of bounds, tourists can witness them from a distance from the ‘Open Hand’, the official emblem of Chandigarh located in the heart of Capitol Complex.
For a closer look of the premises, tourists are required to seek permission from the Tourist Bureau at Sector 9 or the Tourist Reception Centre at Sector 17 Plaza.
Nepli, located at a short distance from the village of Kansal, is a part of the 3,245 hectares of forest area that marks the northern edge of Chandigarh. Leased from Haryana, this natural reserve forest is thicker and wilder than the forests of Kansal.
A large variety of wildlife can be spotted here which includes antelopes, hyenas, jackals, hares and neelgais. Tourists require an entry pass issued by the Deputy Conservator of Forest Chandigarh to explore the rich flora and fauna of Nepli. A major attraction of this area is the 8 km long forest trek along the steep nature trails that connect the lodge at Nepli to the one at Kansal.
Gurdwara Koohni Sahib, originally known as the Bageecha Sahib, is believed to be the site where Guru Gobind Singh Ji halted for a week with his fellow soldiers. As per the legends, the reason behind Guru Sahib’s visit was to meet Mata Raj Kaur, who had settled here after leaving Dehradun to stay away from her husband Ram Rai.
This religious attraction is located on the Chandigarh-Mansa Devi Road. Though a lesser known Gurudwara, it is a must visit place for tourists who love history.
The Government Museum and Art Gallery is a popular tourist attraction located in Sector 10. Credited to the acclaimed architect Le Corbusier, the impressive building of this museum encompasses a large visiting room, a conservation laboratory, lobby, reserve collection storage, a temporary exhibition hall, an auditorium and a cafeteria.
The various art galleries at the museum display an outstanding collection of Gandhara stone sculptures, pre-historic fossils and many other artefacts. There is also a reference library inside the museum that has a collection of over 6,000 books on culture and art. The ancient and modern art exhibits at the Government Museum and Art Gallery make it popular among national and foreign travellers to the city.
The Museum of Evolution of Life, as the name suggests, traces back the origin of a man from Indus Valley Civilisation to the present age. Set up in 1973 as a part of the Government Museum and Art Gallery, this exquisite museum houses portraits and paintings that explain the evolution of humans from unicellular organisms to biological diversity.
The first phase of the museum was the section of Cyclorama that was followed by Astronomy, Archaeology, Pre-historic and Geology sections. There is also a reference library inside the museum that holds an outstanding collection of books on subjects like evolutionary studies, palaeontology, zoology, botany and biology.
The museum is open from 10 am to 4:30 pm throughout the week, except on Mondays.
The Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary is a sprawling protected area in Chandigarh located on the north-eastern side of Sukhna Lake. A part of the Sukhna Lake catchment, this area was created by Le Corbusier in 1958 but was designated as a wildlife sanctuary only in 1998. Spread over an expanse of 2,600 hectare in the foothills of Shivaliks, Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary is a wildlife haven with a wide variety of mammals, insects and reptiles. In fact, the sanctuary is renowned to have the highest average sambar cluster in the country.
Furthermore, the sanctuary is home to over 150 varieties of birds, besides the ones that migrate here in the months of December through February. The sanctuary is also an abode of exotic flora comprising shrubs, herbs, grasses, climbers and evergreen trees that provide an ideal habitat for wildlife.
The Rose Garden in Chandigarh dates back to the year 1967, and is acclaimed to be the largest garden of its kind in the Asian continent. Often referred to as the Zakir Hussain Rose Garden, this 17 acre garden is flooded with 17,000 different types of plants that produce 1,600 varieties of roses.
Other than roses, the beautiful garden also boasts of several plants that have a medicinal value, such as bahera, camphor, bel, harar and yellow gulmohar. This well-maintained garden hosts a major annual event called the Rose Festival annually.
With its cultural festivities and contests, this event attracts locals as well as tourists. The eye-catching spectacle of the Rose Garden makes it a must-visit attraction. The Rock Garden can be located near Sukhna Lake. It is thronged by atleast 5,000 visitors per day.
Chhatbir Zoo lies on the Chandigarh-Zirakpur-Patiala Road, 17 km away from the city in the Mohali district. Inaugurated on 13th April 1977, this zoo was formerly named after the then Governor of Punjab as Mahendra Chaudhary Zoological Park.
Sprawling across an area of 202 acre, this zoological park is claimed to be the largest in Northern India. Amidst near-natural forest environment, this zoo houses over 85 species of mammals, birds and reptiles. Of the total livestock population of 950, the most prized inmate of Chhatbir Zoo is the Royal Bengal Tiger.
Other highlights of the zoo include lion safari, drive-in deer safari and a shallow lake. The vegetation at this zoo, comprising a great variety of shrubs, herbs, indigenous trees and grasses, gives an impression of the natural habitat of animals. It is open daily except on Mondays from 9 am to 5 pm. Chhatbir Zoo is a must visit for tourists in Chandigarh.
Kansal is a small village, located on the outskirts of Chandigarh, which is leased to the Union Territory from the neighbouring state of Punjab. Near this village is a large area of natural reserve, known as the Kansal Forest, which is home to numerous animals, such as hyena, antelope, neelgai, jackal and hare.
Though the entry to this forest is restricted, permission can be obtained from the Deputy Conservator of Forest Chandigarh for a close encounter with nature and wildlife. There is also a rest house located within the forest of Kansal that offers a picturesque view of the lush green lawns and colourful flower beds in it's surroundings.
The Rock Garden, situated at Sector 1 between the Sukhna Lake and the Capitol Complex, is perhaps the most popular attraction in the city. Designed by Nek Chand some 40 years ago, this unique garden features several art objects that are designed using industrial and urban waste. The 14 fascinating chambers within the Rock Garden, along with the waterfall, the pools and the twisted pathways, make it an embodiment of innovation and imagination.
Spread across an area of 40 acres, the Rock Garden exhibits sculptures made of discarded items of home wastes like broken bangles, chinaware, wires, porcelain, auto parts, fluorescent tubes, to name a few. Building wastes, forks, clay, play marbles and terracotta pots have also been displayed inside the garden in various varied forms, such as buildings, human figures and animals. This amazing garden is open everyday, from 9 am onwards.
The International Dolls Museum, located at Bal Bhavan in Sector 23, is controlled by the Indian Council of Child Welfare, Chandigarh. Established in 1985 with the aim to provide amusement to children, this museum exhibits a fascinating collection of dolls and marionettes.
These dolls belong to more than 25 countries across the world, including Germany, Spain, Korea, Denmark, Netherlands and Russia. There is a separate section devoted to Indian dolls that are dressed in traditional attires of the various states.
Dolls dressed as fairy tale characters are the major highlights of the International Dolls Museum. To add to the entertainment, there is a toy train that offers a startling ride across varied sections of the museum. Open on all days except Sunday, this extremely charming museum is a must visit for children and is a recommended option for other age groups as well.